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Walmart, DreamWorks make riding a dragon a (virtual) reality

On their next trip to the Supercenter, Walmart Inc. customers in several cities can pick up bread, toilet paper, pet food — and a ride on a flying serpent alongside Hiccup and Astrid from “How to Train Your Dragon.”

The retail giant has partnered with DreamWorks Animation to bring an exclusive “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” virtual reality (VR) experience to select Walmart (NYSE: WMT) parking lots — and sell merchandise, of course.

The experience, powered by HP, Intel and Positron, begins in an onboarding room where guests are greeted by the film’s mischievous twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut. Participants are then led into a dragon’s cave to suit up in headsets and sit in specialized Positron motion VR chairs powered by the HP VR backpack, before embarking on a five-minute journey through the Hidden World with the help of Astrid, Hiccup, Toothless, Hookfang and more.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” opens in North American theaters on Feb. 22 from DreamWorks Animation, a division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA).

The “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” VR tour will visit 16 cities in five states at Walmart stores between Feb. 15 and April 9, including two in the Valley:

Glendale (5010 North 95th Avenue) — March 8-9
Gilbert (2501 South Market Street) — March 10-12

The experience marks the first activation from Spatial&, the newest portfolio company from Walmart’s Store N°8 tech incubator focused on v-commerce, or VR merchandising experiences. Spatial& uses storytelling and technology to create emotional bonds between consumers and brands.

The “Dragon” experience ends in a branded, immersive gift shop featuring merchandise from the film, ranging from plush toys and action figures to franchise DVDs and video games. Select items from the collection will be available at 2,000 Walmart stores nationwide.

“Spatial” was founded based on the belief that VR will transform merchandising and retail, and we can’t wait to finally share this uniquely immersive shopping experience with consumers across the country,” said Spatial& CEO Katie Finnegan in a statement.